October 11, 2017
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Looking to bounce back from a 1-2 start in Pac-12 play, the Ducks continued to hone their offense sans starting quarterback Justin Herbert, while the UO defense focused on preparing to stop Stanford’s run game during the team’s last traditional practice session of the week. The Ducks will walk through tomorrow and run through their game plan before departing for the Bay Area on Friday, but Wednesday practices are the final opportunity to simulate actual game speed and action.
Like Tuesday, the Oregon offense worked on communication between the quarterback and offensive line at the outset of the workout, with Braxton Burmeister calling out the snap count and triggering the linemen to fire off the line of scrimmage and hit a blocking sled. The Ducks were flagged for multiple false start penalties last Saturday vs. Washington State in part because of the volume and cadance of a brand new quarterback.
Also in an effort to address the issue of penalties that has plagued the team through the first half of the season, a three-man officiating crew was on hand for the workout. It’s not unusual for officials to work scrimmages during preseason camp, but their presence during a regular season practice demostrates head coach Willie Taggart‘s emphasis of cutting down on unforced errors.
It turned out that the refs were hardly noticed, thanks to plenty of clean exectution on both sides of the ball.
Highlights: Senior quarterback Taylor Alie, who was unavailable against last week against the Cougars, looked fully healthy and came out firing the ball around to his receivers during 1-on-1 drills. The veteran signal-caller tossed a beautiful deep ball to Brenden Schooler, who hauled it in on the goal line while covered by cornerback Arrion Springs, before following up with a dart down the seam to Darrian McNeal and another underneath the coverage to Jaylon Redd on the next rep.
Alie continued working his connection with McNeal during 7-on-7, finding the true freshman at the back pylon with a nifty touchdown throw.
Burmeister got things going against the scout team defense during a late 11-on-11 period, ripping off four straight completions to this week’s projected starting receivers Johnny Johnson III, Dillon Mitchell (two catches) and Charles Nelson. The young QB also had a nice touch pass over the top to Taj Griffin during 1-on-1s. The more he progresses in the passing game, the more problems he poses to opposing defenses with his running ability.
On defense, nose guard Jordon Scott was extremely active throughout the day as the Ducks worked on bottling up the run. Stanford’s running game, led by junior Bryce Love, figures to pose the biggest challenge UO defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt‘s front seven has faced this season. Love not only leads the FBS with 1,240 yards rushing through just six games, he is averaging an obscene 10.51 yards per attempt.
Other highlights: Safeties Tyree Robinson and Brady Breeze each recorded interceptions during 1-on-1s. Robinson stepped in front of Taj Griffin to pick off a pass and Breeze made an athletic, diving pick on the very next rep. … Scout team quarterback Mike Irwin connected with receiver Daewood Davis on a long touchdown against the No. 1 defense when a defender fell down. … True freshmen linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia saw action with the travel squad.
Other observations: The Ducks finished practice by dividing into teams for an overtime scenario. Burmeister led the ones and moved the chains with a 3rd-down completion to tight end Jacob Breeland before the drive stalled out and resulted in a field goal opportunity. The twos promptly responded with a touchdown pass from Alie to running back Darrian Felix on their first play to “win” the game. … After practice, Coach Taggart handed out awards to the team’s players of the week for the squad’s four wins to date.
Sophomore linebacker Troy Dye
Senior safety Tyree Robinson